A taboo subject but well-rooted in our personal history, the way we manage money can spark sparks in a relationship. How to “settle scores” without blowing up your relationship? Johanna Rozenblum, clinical psychologist answers us.
Good accounts make good friends. But in love too, knowing how to balance things out together is also necessary for a healthy relationship. However, in many settled couples, money and the way we spend it can quickly lead to conflicts. So what is at stake and how can we calm things down?
Money management, a personal legacy
First of all, there aren’t really any rules about the right way to spend money in a relationship. Some want to manage everything equally, others pay the bills according to the size of their salary, some are spenders while others are thrifty. It’s all about finding your balance.
According to an INSEE study published in 2012, 64% of workers pool everything, 18% opt for a total separation of their income and 18% choose a “mixed” operation with a joint account and two personal accounts. A distribution which is largely due to the education we received, and our personal history. “It is also a value that we acquire very early, based on what we heard in our childhood from our own parents. We can thus have an already complicated relationship with money or on the contrary without complexes” tells us Johanna Rozenblum, clinical psychologist, member of our expert committee.
Making the subject taboo amplifies conflicts
Several situations can then arise: one of the partners may feel indebted, vulnerable or, on the contrary, be annoyed at always paying the bill (even though they willingly offered to do so at the start of the relationship). Others accuse each other of being responsible for the overdraft at the end of the month. And this, without finding the opportunity to put his cards on the table.
“For fear of projecting the image of someone as venal, we often prefer not to talk about money in a relationship. To put our foot in the dish is to take the risk of appearing petty” summarizes Héloïse Bolle in her book Good accounts make good lovers (Le Cherche-Midi).
The proof is still according to INSEE, for fear of addressing the issue, 90% of couples would never change the financial organization put in place at the start of their relationship…. Even when needs evolve and tensions crystallize. The subject of finances can then become stuck.
Good in his body, good in his head!
What to do to avoid conflict over money?
Transparency seems to be the key to a peaceful subject. But it is above all about one’s own relationship with money that one must see clearly.
“In order not to make money an object of tension, we must first understand what place it has in our relationship. Is it something synonymous with sharing which invites us to project ourselves into the future? And in this cases, the accounts are not daily, because we have time ahead of us… Or on the contrary, do we want to be very clear about our accounts and what we spend because we think that at any moment we can be betrayed, that our story can end? The important thing is above all to think about the representation we give to money in the couple to move forward, more than who pays what.
Discussing the subject of money in a clear and calm manner with your partner must also be part of the answer, if the subject weighs on you, so that you can agree on your respective needs. The solution can also consist of putting your expenses, the budget, in black and white, for the imperative things, such as the extras that are important to you.
“But in this case you still have to have someone in front of you who considers money in an accounting way, like us. When the two people manage money in completely different ways, there will still be regular adjustments to do about finances and the importance they have in the couple, if we want to avoid conflict.